Why Choose Outdoor Odysseys?

What a great adventure we had - fabulous paddling (and weather), terrific guides, yummy food, rugged coastlines and magnificent creatures (Orcas, seals, eagles), beautiful campsites and walks, and wonderful camaraderie. Thanks again to Sarah and Jonathan for leading us safely and making it fun while learning a bit on the side. Not a bad 4-day combination! - San Juan 4 Day Eagles and Orcas Tour

We recognize that you have a variety of different outfitters to choose from when coming on a sea kayaking tour in the San Juan Islands. Here are a few thoughts to consider when selecting your San Juan outfitter...

  • Whales - The absolute "best" place to kayak and see whales is on the west side of San Juan Island. Outdoor Odysseys leaves from San Juan County Park - the "premier" launch spot for viewing whales if they are in the area.
  • Lunches - We are the only kayak company to provide lunches on our day tours - saving you the time and hassle of getting a lunch together. To shave costs - some SJ outfitters don't even provide lunches on their overnight tours.
  • Dry Bags - We provide high quality Cascade Designs dry bags to keep your clothing and gear secure and dry on both our day and overnight tours. One SJ company suggests you line your pack with a garbage bag - and hope that it stays dry?!
  • Our Guides - Beyond good food, beautiful place to paddle, etc. - the most crucial factor to having a great kayaking tour is the quality of your guide(s). Unlike some companies, we don't hire guides right out of college. In fact, the average age of our guides at Outdoor Odysseys is 29 and guide for us for anywhere from 2-6 years.
  • Our Trip Food - This is another area where some SJ companies can cut corners. We use only high quality ingredients in our exceptional camp cuisine including organically grown produce, real butter, real maple syrup, good coffee and bottled wines.

When you combine delicious food, friendly, knowledgeable customer service and great guides, the bottom line is that with Outdoor Odysseys you receive a quality, memorable vacation. We've been here since 1987, and as one of the oldest and most respected kayak companies in the San Juans offering sea kayaking with orca whales and wildlife viewing, we've learned a few things about what makes for a quality outing. Here are a few factors to consider when making your vacation plans...

Environmental Guidelines

Our trips have always been designed with an abiding respect and concern for our environment. Our guides share their passion for the unique ecosystem of the San Juan Islands in a variety of ways. We practice low impact camping, make a habit of leaving any campsite cleaner than we found it and follow accepted wildlife viewing ethics. We also grow some of our own organic fruits and vegetables as well as support local island farmers. Outdoor Odysseys is an active member of a variety of local environmental organizations working to protect the islands including the San Juan Preservation Trust, People for Puget Sound and The Whale Museum.

We have been in business since 1987 and have built a well-deserved reputation for offering quality, hand crafted kayak tours. Since founding Outdoor Odysseys, Clark Casebolt made a personal decision to run a relatively small company that concentrates specifically on sea kayaking in the San Juan Islands. Tom Murphy, long time guide and manager, continues to embrace that concept by delivering the same great trips we have for years. Unlike some other island companies, we don’t offer trips in the winter to Baja or Costa Rica. This focus and personal involvement results in quality trips with a high degree of customer satisfaction. Our level of commitment begins with your call or email to our office. As a native of Washington, Clark and his staff can make recommendations about planning your trip to the San Juan Islands and other things to see and do in the Pacific Northwest. When you sign up we’ll send comprehensive trip information ranging from travel logistics, clothing and equipment lists to detailed natural history information. Our goal is to ensure that your vacation with us is effortless and hassle free from start to finish.
To ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable trip we use double kayaks - which are wider and much more stable than single kayaks. Our guides will provide you with a very thorough on-land kayak and safety orientation teaching the basics of paddling, steering and fitting the kayak. We won't get on the water until everybody feels comfortable about paddling! Outdoor Odysseys takes particular pride in our mature and professional guides. They have been specially trained to handle emergency situations and routinely carry both cell phones and VHF radios as well as an expedition first aid kit on our overnight trips. With over 20 years in the business we have an impeccable safety record.
All things being equal, (good food, beautiful paddling location, etc.) the single most important factor in determining whether or not you will have merely an "OK" trip or a "GREAT" one is going to depend in large part on your guide. bald eagle in treeA good guide should be safety oriented, knowledgeable regarding all aspects of kayaking, informative about the local area and environment and, most importantly, they should genuinely like and enjoy people and their work. Outdoor Odysseys prides itself on hiring excellent guides that come back year after year. We hire guides who have grown up in the Pacific Northwest and tend to look on it as their backyard - which it is quite literally. Over 90% of our guides for the season call this area their home.
We typically hire guides that have degrees in the natural history disciplines, including degrees in biology, environmental science, and zoology. What we all have in common is the ability to share in a fun and engaging manner our knowledge of the local flora and fauna as well as the cultural history. You’ll learn about how to tell the difference between an immature and mature bald eagle or what the irrepressible American Oyster Catcher does with its bright orange bill. You’ll come to appreciate the natural history of the area while enjoying the incredible beauty of the San Juan Archipelago.
Preparing quality food while sea kayaking can be a challenge and a way for some outfitters to trim costs by serving the same thing every night. We pride ourselves on serving quality food and pay special attention to our meals. Whenever possible, we use fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables. Typical dinner entrees include a smoked salmon pesto fettuccine and a Thai dish utilizing savory brown and wild rice and our own special ginger peanut sauce. The gentle art of Dutch oven cookery is used to bake entrees as well as mouth-watering desserts such as our ‘killer’ apple/pear crisp. Add a glass of one of Washington's premium wines; a view of the setting sun, great company, and well, life doesn't get much better.
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